Banker suicides: Why banking is now the most dangerous career choice

By Neil Patrick

I have become fascinated this week by a news story which is being largely ignored by the mainstream media. This virtual news blackout in itself is intriguing. Over the last few weeks, at least five and according to some sources as many as twenty banking executives have committed suicide.

If these people were musicians, actors or politicians, I am sure this story would be front page news.

The facts we know so far are this. In the last two or three months, between five and twenty traders and managers involved with FOREX trading and derivative currency trading have all allegedly committed suicide. Several have thrown themselves from the tops of bank buildings in New York, London and Hong Kong. William Broeksmit, 58, a retired Deutsche Bank risk executive was found dead in his London home in January.

The fact that even the exact number of deaths is so vague is difficult enough to comprehend.

Others with strong connections to investment banking have also met unusual deaths. Michael Dueker, former vice president of the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve, was found dead at the side of a highway that leads to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. He was 50.

The cause of his death is still undetermined.

The strangest of these deaths was Richard Talley, a former investment banker with Drexel Burnham Lambert who shot himself with a nail gun at least ten times at his home in Centennial, Colorado.

There is much speculation based on the known facts that these events have occurred at the same time as regulatory agency investigations of fraud, price fixing, and “front run” trading in the FOREX markets and earlier in the LIBOR index.

Ten global banking giants including JP Morgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Lloyds Banking Group, and others, have found themselves subject to criminal investigations.

Some are attributing the cause of these deaths to high levels of mental stress within the industry. I find this difficult to accept as a plausible explanation. Sure, I know these guys work crazy hours and have huge pressure to perform. And I am sure that many are finding the regulatory investigations extremely testing. But if job-related stress is the cause, why would we see so many more or less simultaneous suicides?

Stewart Black, professor of global leadership and strategy at IMD, the top business school in Lausanne, Switzerland said that the people at greatest risk are “those who have not cultivated friendships and networks outside of their company. A lot of executives keep their nose down, work hard, do great work and don’t really cultivate extra networks,” he said. “Those broader networks act as safety valves.”

A more interesting source of comment is Peter Rodgers, chairman of the City Mental Health Alliance: “Banks are starting to realize the scale of the problem”, he said. Membership of his group includes Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

Is this a clue? Are these ‘independent’ respected commentators being used by the banking industry to deflect suspicion away from what is really going on?

If simple stress and overwork is the true explanation, why haven’t we seen a steady trickle of similar suicides over the last few years? Why didn’t we see similar events during the meltdown of 2008, which was arguably the most traumatic year ever for the big banks? And why would those no longer actively working in the sector also be killing themselves?

JP Morgan, which has had at least two suicides so far this year, isn’t a member of the City Mental Health Alliance and hasn’t publicly announced measures to deal with the aftermath of the deaths.

“JP Morgan haven’t come forward to us and we haven’t approached them either,” Rodgers said. “There’s a period of mourning. The last thing they need is us sticking our heads in. I’m confident they will come forward.”

The ‘alternative’ financial media is having a field day with this story as you’d expect. Conspiracy theories are running amok and all sorts of ‘experts’ are being called on to provide their interpretation of what might be going on.

They knew too much. They were possible whistle blowers, they had sudden attacks of conscience or guilt as a result of the regulatory investigations. All these theories and more are being put forward.

And of course as usual, the most extreme of them all is coming from Max Keiser, whose commentary is in this clip. I have a feeling this story has far from run its course.


  1. What do they know that we don't?

    I have read that Russia and China (and others) are slowly moving the pieces necessary to dump the US dollar.

    1. I read that too David. So many theories as to what's going, so little hard evidence. The only thing I am convinced of is that something is afoot...

  2. I have been seeing this story on a couple of websites and find it interesting too. I think it's a little strange that there are so many. I would be investigating all the cases as possible homicide or see if they were being blackmailed into killing themselves.

    1. Thanks for posting here Kim. I saw one argument that because there are over 5 million people in the US working in the financial sector, if we look at it as a percentage, this number isn't unusual. But I disagree. These are not random people form across the FS sector, they are from a very specific and small area within it...I wonder when and if the mainstream media will decide to pay attention...